Why Ecumenism Fails: Taking Theological Differences Seriously
Englehardt, H. Tristram, Jr.
Christian Bioethics 2007 January-April; (13)1: 25-51
Contemporary Christians are separated by foundationally disparate understandings of Christianity itself. Christians do not share one theology, much less a common understanding of the significance of sin, suffering, disease, and death. These foundational disagreements not only stand as impediments to an intellectually defensible ecumenism, but they also form the underpinnings of major disputes in the culture wars, particularly as these are expressed in healthcare. There is not one Christian bioethics of sin, suffering, sickness, and death. In this article, the character of the moral-theological visions separating the various Christianities and thus their bioethics is examined. Particular emphasis is placed on the differences that set contemporary Western theology at odds with the theology of the Christianity of the first millennium. As is shown, the ground for this gulf lies in the divide between traditional and post-traditional views of the appropriate role of philosophy in theology, a difference rooted in disparate understandings of the meaning of church and of the meaning of the logos, the Son of God.
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